Stolen 15 Billion Naira: EFCC Witness Testifies Against Former Afribank Boss

adigwe_bankA prosecution witness, Emmanuel Al-Hassan, in the ongoing trial of a former Managing Director of the defunct Afribank Plc, Sebastian Adigwe and six others have told a Lagos State High Court sitting in Igbosere how the bankers plotted to cover-up over 15 billion Naira (about $93.7 million) allegedly stolen from the bank.

Al-Hassan, who led a team of investigators from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the alleged crime, told the trial judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, on Tuesday, that the accused persons concocted various documents to mask the fact that the money was diverted to companies they had links with.

The former Afribank boss, Adigwe was arraigned alongside Osa Osunde, Jibrin Isah, Isa Zailani, Chinedu Onyia, Henry Arogundade and Peter Ololo before the court by the EFCC on a 36-count charge of conspiracy, stealing and receiving stolen property.

Fraudulently Converted

While being cross-examined by Adigwe’s counsel, Mr Anthony Idigbe, Al-Hassan said that the stolen money was fraudulently converted to the use of AIL Securities Limited, Asset Management Nominees Holding Limited and Falcons Securities Limited allegedly belonging to the defendants.

The witness Said: “Though I am not a banker or a stockbroker, but during the course of investigation we discovered that Adigwe and other directors of the defunct bank transferred 15 billion Naira in favour of another Rehoboth Asset Limited.

“Also, during investigation, the team discovered a document showing that the money was granted as a loan facility to buy shares from another party other than from the floor of the Nigerian stock Exchange”.

Documents Contrived

Al-Hassan further informed the court that in the course of their investigation, they obtained various documents after the exits of the defendants from the bank that explained what transpired and led to 11.5 billion Naira being transferred to Spring Capital limited.

The witness stated that when the alleged stealing was committed, documents were contrived to cover-up the stealing. He explained that some of the exhibits before the court were part of the documentations made to cover up the alleged fraud.

Al-Hassan said the Managing Director of ACL told his team that she was instructed by the Adigwe to transfer the money to Spring Capital limited.

He also maintained that Afribank granted 15 billion Naira loan to AIL Securities Limited without a formal letter requesting for the facility.

Al-Hassan further alleged that another bank account was opened in Falcon Securities’ name with “zero Naira” for the purposes of transferring the 15 billion Naira credit facility.

The witness also informed the court that additional 15 billion Naira was given to Falcon Securities as loan for the purchase of stocks of blue chip companies on the floor of the NSE.

The trial has been adjourned till January 26 and 28 for continuation of cross-examination of the witness.

Former Afribank director asks court to quash money laundry charges against him

An ex-director with the former Afribank Nigeria Plc (now Mainstreet bank), Chinedu Onyia on Wednesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to quash criminal charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mr Onyia, in a motion against the charge, insisted that there is nothing on the face of the charge upon which he could stand trial, adding that the EFCC failed to provide credible material to link him with the commission of the alleged crime.

The former bank director is standing trial alongside former Managing Director of Afribank, Sebastian Adigwe, a stockbroker, Peter Ololo and his company, Falcon Securities Limited, former Chairman of Afribank, Osa Osunde and two other directors of the bank – Henry Arogundade and Isa Zailani.

The accused persons are standing trial over alleged abuse of office, banking malpractices and laundering of N55 billion.

According to the charges, Mr Adigwe was said to have conspired with the bank directors to grant several loan without adequate security.

Some of the companies that allegedly benefited from the “reckless” loan included Larix Company Limited, Suletical Nigeria Limited, Broworks Nigeria Limited, Alsmiths Nigeria Limited, Rehoboth Assets Limited and Falcon Securities Limited.

The accused were said to have failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the books of accounts of Afribank as at May 31, 2009, gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank as required by Sections 24 (1), 24 (2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act. Cap. B3, Laws of the Federation by understating the loan portfolio of the bank.

Specifically, Mr Adigwe had allegedly perpetrated shares fraud by creating a misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Afribank on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.

He was accused of doing that by approving N2 billion credit facilities to Alsmiths Nigeria Limited to purchase large volume of Afribank’s shares, an offence contrary to Section 105 (1) (a) of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 115 (a) of the same Act.

When the matter came up on Wednesday before Justice John Tsoho, Mr Onyia’s lawyer, Kola Obafemi urged the court to quash the charge against his client, and also discountenance the additional proof of evidence filed by the EFCC.

Mr Obafemi said that the EFCC in the charge alleged that Mr Onyia granted reckless credit facilities, but that the proof of evidence attached by the commission to the charge showed clearly that all facilities were duly authorized.

On the additional proof of evidence, Mr Obafemi argued that it was unfair on the part of the EFCC to file additional evidence against his client after he had pleaded to the charge, and urged the court to take a strong stand on it; otherwise, there would be no end to the filing of papers.

Reacting to the submission by the counsel to the former bank director, the EFCC’s lawyer, K.U.K Ekwueme urged the court to dismiss the two applications filed by Mr Onyia, adding that the man had in his statement to the anti-graft agency, admitted signing on to the approval of credit facilities in the case.

Former Afribank boss accuses EFCC of selective prosecution

The Former Managing Director of Afribank (now Mainstreet bank), Sebastian Adigwe has accused the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of indulging in selective prosecution by deliberately dropping ‘a star’ accused person from the criminal charge currently pending against him at the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Mr. Adigwe, who spoke through his lawyer, Anthony Idigbe at the continued hearing of the matter on Tuesday, stressed that the EFCC suddenly dropped one Jubril Isah from the charge without any reason, and that the said Isah was the Executive Director in charge of Finance at the bank at the time the alleged crime was committed.

Mr. Idigbe stated that eighty percent of the counts against the former bank boss in the charge were alleged to have been committed in collaboration with the said Isah, who was suddenly dropped from the matter.

While absolving his client of any crime, Mr. Idigbe noted that as Managing Director, Mr. Adigwe was employed by the bank to take business risk, and that he cannot be criminally liable for any fallout of the business judgment he made on behalf of the bank.

Mr.  Idigbe pointed out that the EFCC was unable to show anywhere in the counts where Mr. Adigwe benefited fraudulently from the transactions upon which he is now being tried.

While insisting that the charge disclosed no prima facie evidence against his client, Mr. Idigbe urged the court to quash the charge against the former Afribank bank boss as presently framed.

Responding, EFCC’s lawyer, K.U.K Ekwueme said the allegation of selective justice by the defendants was completely diversionary, and that the dropping of Jubril Isah does not make the case incompetent.

Ekwueme stressed that the arguments of the defence was a collateral attack on the prosecutorial powers granted the prosecution by the Constitution, as it was at liberty to drop charges against any accused person.

Mr. Adigwe is standing trial alongside others over alleged abuse of office, banking malpractices and money laundering to the tune of N55 billion.

Other accused persons are a stockbroker, Peter Ololo and his company, Falcon Securities Limited; former Chairman of Afribank, Osa Osunde and four directors of the bank – Chinedu Onyia, Henry Arogundade and Isa Zailani.

The case has been adjourned till the 18th of April for continuation of arguments before Justice John Tsoho.